I post on the fourth Thursday of every month and I’m thankful to share this time with you. Last month I shared the story of how I got my start in speaking. This month I want us to take a closer look behind the scenes.
In the fall and spring seasons, I travel about three weekends out of four. During the winter months, I drop back to only one or two weekend events per month. Often, as I’m out and about, women share with me how they feel sure God has called them to become a conference speaker. I think that’s wonderful! The world is full of hurting, desperate people and there is enough work to go around for all of us.
I do know from experience, and from talking with many other speakers, that when God takes us to a mountain top and points out our promised land, He then takes us down into the valley of preparation. It’s in that place where God deals with the inconsistencies in our character, the fears that might hold us back, and the fleshly ambition that may potentially drive us forward, ahead of God.
Of course, we can check out of the valley, and forge our own path. Lots of people do it. And what’s the result? Inferior fruit, sometimes plastic fruit; unprepared character, sometimes moral failure; quick advancement, sometimes followed by a ministry that fizzles to drizzle. If we really want to last long and finish strong, we must be willing to humble ourselves in the valley of preparation. God only wants to extract from us that which the enemy would love to use against us, later, when we least expect it.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time (1 Peter 5:6).
As we move along in our speaking career, God will continue His refining work within us, to remind of us who is in charge and of how much we need Him. If we stay humble and teachable in His hand, He can use us to change the world! Don’t be afraid of the humbling, refining times. My pastor always says, “The depths of His dealings correspond with the height of His calling!”
Hone Your Craft…
The more I learn, the less I know. I’m sure you feel that way too, sometimes. I’m forever amazed that God entrusts us highly imperfect people with His priceless message. He knows we are a work in progress, that we’ll take the credit sometimes, that we’ll be broken one day and be braggarts the next, and still, He considers it a pleasure to use us! Amazing, no?
I used to despair over how far I had to go to become a polished communicator. Now I simply embrace the grace for the day. I wrap my arms around what I know today and I convey His message with all of the passion He gives me, trusting that as I trust in Him, and apply myself to the craft of communicating, I’ll be a better communicator next week. 🙂
Here a few things I learned that may help you refine your message:
- Determine your left hook: What’s your end-all takeaway? Start there, at the end. And work your way backwards. Keep your message focused, like an arrow pointing to your ‘takeaway’ target.
- Use story: Don’t go too long in your message without the use of a compelling story and life application for your audience. With writing and speaking, story is king!
- Impart don’t relay: Make sure that what you are speaking about comes from your soul, where you’ve lived. When you speak out of your convictions, your encounters with God, and your experiences, you impart life. When you use somebody else’s material, you simply relay information (and the life blood of the message gets lost in the process).
- Be you: Stay away from the need to appear smarter than you are, or more spiritual than you are. People can spot a phony or a wannabe a mile away.
- Be real: Make sure you reveal some of your own areas of need (“I’m a terrible cook” or, “Plants come to my house to die.”). These are desperate times and the days of the ‘picture perfect speaker persona’ are way over (actually, that idea has always nauseated me). People need the real deal. They want to relate to their speaker. (A little caveat here: Too much self-deprecating will most certainly backfire. If you’re not an expert in your field, people will wonder how you got the gig).
Becoming a speaker is a grueling, wonderful, refining, faith-stretching sort of call. But if you’re called to it, you won’t want to be anywhere else.
I hope this information helps you along the way.
Until next month~